Friday, November 21, 2014

Hampton U. hopes to build on Bethune-Cookman win in finale at Howard

HAMPTON, Viriginia -- The lesson didn't take hold as quickly as Hampton U. coach Connell Maynor intended, but it finally produced a signature win. The next step in the Pirates' makeover is duplicating the process to conclude the season.

HU took down two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champ Bethune-Cookman 40-35 last Thursday, an oasis in a frustrating season filled with competitive losses and missed opportunities.

"You showed that you could play with one of the best teams in the nation," Maynor said he told his players, "and not only play with them, you could beat them. You did it for 60 minutes, you outplayed them from the opening kickoff to the last second. We need to play like that every week — one play at a time, one drive at a time, one quarter at time, one half, one game, every single game. There's no reason you can't play like that every week."

The Pirates (3-8, 2-5 MEAC) aim for a season-ending win at Howard (4-7, 2-5 MEAC) Saturday at 1 p.m. in Washington, D.C. A 4-8 record is far from acceptable to Maynor and the program, but it would provide some momentum heading into the offseason and demonstrate that players listened.


Transfer U: Former FBS players find a home at Bethune-Cookman

ORLANDO, Florida -- Joshua Richardson of Moss Point, Mississippi, said he learned about Bethune-Cookman from watching them play on ESPN.

Of B-CU's 25 Division I FBS transfers, Richardson is one of a very few who are not from a Florida high school.

“I saw Coach (Brian) Jenkins (on TV). He was real enthusiastic on the sidelines,” the cornerback said.

Richardson will join Jenkins and the rest of the Wildcats in the Citrus Bowl at 2 p.m. Saturday when they meet Florida A&M in the Florida Classic.

The game will be televised by ESPNClassic, providing B-CU a chance to be seen by more potential recruits and transfers.


AAMU QB Throws for 430 Yards on Torn ACL

Normal, Alabama  --  Lost in all that was college football last Saturday afternoon is quite possibly the guttiest performance of the season by anyone, anywhere. Alabama A&M suffered it’s 3rd loss by three points or less, but QB Jaymason Lee walked off the field a winner. The 215 pound senior from Hawaii played on a torn ACL and he didn’t just play. Lee played one of his best games, throwing for 430 yards and two touchdowns.

Doctors and coaches all advised Lee not to play. They reminded him that he would have no mobility and another bad hit could be detrimental to the recovery process. Lee was not having any of it, and there was no chance he was sitting out his final collegiate home game. Afterwards, head coach James Spady spoke on his quarterback’s behalf.

“He didn’t just play hurt, he shouldn’t have played. He’s one-legged right now, playing on a torn ACL,” Spady said. “He is a guy that has put his own personal health aside so he can play for his teammates.”


Alcorn State closes regular season against Jackson State

LORMAN, Mississippi -- Alcorn State hasn't recorded consecutive victories over Jackson State in a decade.

The No. 23 Braves (9-2, 7-1 SWAC) entertain their biggest rival on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Spinks-Casem Stadium in Lorman. Two years ago, the contest was played at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium for the first time since the early 1990s.

Alcorn has already clinched the Eastern Division championship and nailed its first-ever berth in the SWAC championship on Dec. 6 at Houston's Reliant Stadium against either Grambling or Southern University.

"We're headed to Houston, I couldn't be happier," Braves coach Jay Hopson said. "These players, these coaches, they did a tremendous job."


FAMU counts on Damien Fleming to steer Rattlers to upset of B-CU in Florida Classic

FAMU quarterback Damien Fleming 
ORLANDO, Florida -- Doubt finally seemed to rattle Florida A&M quarterback Damien Fleming in August.

Rattlers coach Earl Holmes announced there would be an open competition for the starting quarterback job, forcing the veteran dual-threat athlete to fight for the spot after returning from a foot injury that required two offseason surgeries.

"That bothered him a little bit and he was even contemplating whether he wanted to finish out the year," said Anthony Flynn, Fleming's former coach at Jacksonville Ribault High. "He fought through it just like he's always fought through adversity. Although things may not be going his way, he's still persevering."

The Rattlers are counting on Fleming, a four-year starter, to deliver one final dazzling performance when FAMU takes on rival Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic. Kickoff for the game is set for 2 p.m. at Orlando's newly renovated Citrus Bowl and the contest will air on ESPN Classic.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seven from Xavier receive preseason rankings from ITA

NEW ORLEANS -- Led by sensational sophomore Nour Abbes, Xavier University of Louisiana placed seven Thursday in the first Intercollegiate Tennis Association National NAIA Rankings of the 2014-15 season.

Abbes is No. 1 in women's singles after winning the NAIA division of the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in October and finishing second in the "Super Bowl" playoff. Abbes is seventh in doubles with teammate Carmen Nelson. Abbes and Nelson were South Regional runner-up in September.

This is the first time the Gold Nuggets have held the top spot in a USTA/ITA player ranking since Kourtney Howell and Brion Flowers were No. 1 in doubles on April 17, 2013. Flowers is 32nd on the new singles list.

For the second time in XU men's history and the first time since 2011, the Gold Rush have three nationally ranked singles players in November. Kyle Montrel is 13th, Nikita Soifer is 47th, and Tushar Mandlekar is 48th.

Mandlekar is 21st in doubles with Kevin Chaouat.

In the women's South Region rankings, Abbes is first, and Flowers is 14th. Abbes and Nelson are third in doubles.

In the South Region men's rankings, Montrel is sixth, Soifer is 15th, and Mandlekar is 16th. The doubles team of Chaouat and Mandlekar is sixth.

Player rankings in the spring will be announced March 11, April 15 and May 27. The NAIA's preseason team rankings will be revealed Jan. 28, followed by the first regular-season polls Feb. 18.

Xavier will resume competition with dual matches during the final week of January. The schedule will be announced soon. Abbes will enter the spring semester with a 30-1 singles record in her XU career.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

XU's Williams, Wright are GCAC Players of the Week

NEW ORLEANS -- Xavier University of Louisiana's CeCe Williams (women's volleyball) and Morris Wright (men's basketball) are Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Players of the Week for Nov. 10-16.

Williams, a junior outside hitter from Houma, La., and a graduate of Vandebilt Catholic High School, was chosen MVP of the GCAC Tournament, which the Gold Nuggets won for the fourth consecutive year. She had 12 kills and 16 digs in a three-set championship victory against SUNO, including five kills to turn a 9-6 deficit into a 15-10 XU lead in the second set.

Wright, a junior from Zachary, La., a graduate of Zachary High School and a former Baton Rouge Community College standout, averaged 18 points in Gold Rush victories against Loyola and Wiley. He scored a season-high 24 points against Wiley.

The GCAC weekly awards are the first for both players.

Xavier (20-5) will play 12th-ranked Lindsey Wilson (32-3) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Columbia, Ky., in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship opening round. The Gold Rush, 7-1 and ranked 13th, will play LeMoyne-Owen (0-2) at noon Saturday to lead off a homecoming basketball doubleheader at the Convocation Center.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director